1. DIANE VON FURSTENBERG
The Belgium-born American designer - inventor of the iconic and sexy wrap dress, a cross between a kimono and dressing robe - does not hold back in her new memoir The Woman I Wanted To Be ($40, from Diane von Furstenberg boutiques).
She shares intimate and touching anecdotes about her mother, a Holocaust survivor; the salacious details of her relationships with countless lovers, including actor Richard Gere; her turbulent marriage with the late Prince Egon von Furstenberg and why she kept his last name.
Best of all, von Furstenberg, who turns 68 later this month, does not stint on the details of the trials and tribulations of keeping her label relevant.
Written in elegant prose, this inspiring book is a fitting way for the mother-of-two to round off the 40th anniversary of her wrap dress.
Up next, von Furstenberg launches her first jewellery line in February.
2. MICHAEL KORS
Last month, the unstoppable 55-year-old American designer (right) became the first big-name fashion label to directly tap on Instagram (Kors has more than three million followers on his account) to boost sales with his #InstaKors shoppable platform.
Customers who sign up on MichaelKors.com receive e-mail messages to buy specific products whenever they like any Michael Kors Instagram post with the hashtag #InstaKors. At the moment, this service is available only for United States residents.
This initiative caps a pretty good year for Kors, who is known for his feminine and classic American sportswear aesthetic.
In May, he opened his China flagship store, a double-storey 6,000 sq ft space at the swanky Jing An Kerry Centre mall in Shanghai.
He also opened a new menswear flagship store in Soho, New York.
And by the first quarter of next year, Kors will be opening a 9,000 sq ft boutique in the high-end Huamao shopping district in Beijing.
3. SKIN INC
The home-grown skincare brand spread its wings far and wide this year.
Founded in 2007 by Singaporean entrepreneur Sabrina Tan (right), it is now sold in more than 25 markets worldwide. It is the first Singapore brand to be carried by multi-brand beauty retailing giant Sephora and its online site Sephora.com.
This year alone, Skin Inc was launched in Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the United States, with Sephora often being the launch-pad.
The brand's selling point - customised serums to treat specific concerns - has convinced influential beauty editors in the United States (Ms Tan has been travelling to New York every other month for more than a year to promote her brand) to carve out editorial space for it.
This year, Skin Inc products were featured in established titles and on sites such as Allure, Women's Wear Daily, The Huffington Post and Style.com.
By the first quarter of next year, the brand will be available in 58 stores across the US through Sephora.
4. NICOLAS GHESQUIERE
The French artistic director of Louis Vuitton took home the International Designer award at the British Fashion Awards held in London this month.
The award is a cherry on the cake for Ghesquiere (above), 43, who has so far lived up to the high expectations of influential magazine editors, industry insiders and his bosses at Louis Vuitton.
His spring 2015 show that was held in Paris in October - where he showed flowing mini dresses made of see-through fabric, leather montage jackets and skirts, and streamlined denim - was met with positive reviews.
Praise was also lavished on Ghesquiere for his cruise collection in Monaco in May; and his debut Fall 2014 collection shown at Paris Fashion Week in March, where he debuted the cleverly designed Petite Malle bag.
He has scored a hat-trick with his consistent 70s silhouette and his idea of a travelling wardrobe.
5. NARS AUDACIOUS LIPSTICK
For the brand's 20th anniversary this year, make-up artist and founder Francois Nars unleashed a 40-piece collection of lipsticks with pigmented colours.
Called the Audacious Lipstick Collection, the line lives up to its name. Just one slick on the lips will give you an intense, opaque shade that feels lightweight and moisturising.
The line is a nod to the 12 lipsticks that Nars started the brand with in 1994.
My pick: Lana (above, $44, from Nars counters), a vivid orange-red that is flattering on almost all skin tones.
6. TOKYU HANDS
Face-lift tape and lymphatic drainage facial massage tools, anyone?
Since the 7,500 sq ft lifestyle store threw open its doors in Westgate in September, it has been offering beauty junkies here an exclusive range of cosmetics, gadgets and skincare from Japan.
Its beauty section takes up about a third of the store, and features more than 50 Japanese beauty brands, including Vecua Honey, Nov, Wasser, Suhada Recipe, Loretta, Isshindo Honpo, MVNE and Chacott. Many of these are exclusive to Tokyu Hands.
There is also a plethora of grooming products for men.
If you find Westgate in Jurong East to be out of the way, head down to Tokyu Hands at Orchard Central. Opened last month, the new store is just as spacious as its Westgate sibling and offers similar products.
7. NEAL'S YARD REMEDIES
This London-based beauty brand made its way to the local retail scene in August, offering organic lifestyle devotees a beauty routine that is relatively free of harmful pesticides.
The percentages of organic ingredients in each product are clearly printed on the labels.
The store in Millenia Walk stocks skincare, a mother and baby range, essential oils, custom-blended bath products and even teas.
A favourite of celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Kate Moss and Jade Jagger, Neal's Yard Remedies products smell as heavenly as they are good for the skin.
I love to use the Wild Rose Beauty Balm ($88), a blend of wild rose seed oil, beeswax, hemp seed oil, patchouli leaf oil and jojoba seed oil, as a skin-nourishing night mask.
More good news for fans of the brand: another outlet is in the works in the second quarter of next year.
8. POWER SERUMS
These two formulas are made with cutting-edge technology for healthier skin.
SHISEIDO ULTIMUNE POWER INFUSING CONCENTRATE
$105, available at Shiseido counters
More than two decades' worth of research by Shiseido and Harvard Medical School went into the formulation of this product. It was rolled out in September.
It is made to supposedly rev up the Langerhan cells, which suppress skin inflammation and neutralise damage. These cells deteriorate with age, stress and external factors such as UV damage and pollution.
CLINIQUE SMART CUSTOM-REPAIR SERUM
$106, from Clinique counters
As its name suggests, this serum promises to only pump skin with the nutrients it needs. According to the brand's scientists, when skin damage occurs, signals are sent to the cells nearby for help to repair affected areas.
The serum, launched in September, is made with various ingredients that respond to specific damages in the skin, just like how a key fits into a lock.
For ingredients that are not activated, they supposedly remain on standby mode in the skin for up to two weeks.
This article was first published on Dec 19, 2014. Get a copy of Urban, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.